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Max Verstappen wins chaotic Canadian Grand Prix: 'It was a lot of fun'

Published on 09 June 2024 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen has won a tumultuous Canadian Grand Prix. Starting from P2, Verstappen followed leader George Russell in the wet early stages of the race. Despite Lando Norris overtaking Verstappen in lap 20, he managed to pass Russell shortly after, keeping him in P2. After a timely safety car intervention, Verstappen managed to take the lead. The track dried quickly, and after all drivers switched to dry weather tires, the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver maintained a narrow lead. Even after a second safety car restart, Max kept his cool to win his sixth Grand Prix of the season with over three seconds ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren. Behind Norris, George Russell secured his first podium of the year in his Mercedes.

After the race, Verstappen says: “It was a crazy race. A lot of things were happening, and we were on top of our calls. As a team, we did really well today. We remained calm and pitted at the right time.”

Max reviews his race: “At the beginning of the race, the car felt really good, and I was able to put pressure on George, but I could not pass him because there was no DRS. When we had DRS, my tires deteriorated, and then Lando suddenly went very fast. These are things we need to look at because the McLaren was very fast on the intermediates.”

Verstappen continues: “The safety car worked out nicely for us, but even after that, we were managing the gaps quite well. I love it, it was a lot of fun. Those kind of races, you need them once in a while. I feel good in this weather; it kept things very close. At certain moments, one car was faster than the other.”

In the final stages of the race, Max complained over the onboard radio about the suspension of the RB20, preventing him from attacking the kerbstones. However, this didn't jeopardize Max's victory: “Not particularly an issue, we know what it is, so we need to work on it. But, nevertheless, we won, and that's the most important, and we have a lot of room for improvement.”

It rained heavily before the start of the 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix, and it continued to rain during the formation lap. The entire field started on intermediate tires, except for the Haas drivers who opted for full wet tires. Both Saubers started the race from the pit lane. Max had a good start from his second position on the grid, but he could not attempt to overtake polesitter Russell, so Max went into the first corner in P2 behind race leader Russell. Lando Norris follows in P3, with Oscar Piastri in P4. Towards the back of the field, Sergio Perez spun Pierre Gasly's Alpine, but both were able to continue.

The Haas drivers make swift progress in the opening laps. By lap four, Kevin Magnussen has already climbed up to P4, gaining ten positions since the start of the race, while teammate Hulkenberg has fought his way up to P8. In the sixth lap, Logan Sargeant goes straight at turn six and lightly taps the barriers. The Williams driver can continue without damage. Meanwhile, the sun starts to break through, and the track begins to dry. The advantage of the Haas drivers diminishes, and Magnussen decides to pit for intermediates, while Hulkenberg stays out a bit longer but eventually also has to pit.

Verstappen increases the pressure on leader Russell but fails to pass him. In lap seventeen, Max briefly runs onto the grass at the first corner, allowing Norris to close in behind the Dutchman. The race officials deem the track dry enough to enable DRS again, and Norris uses it to pass Verstappen on the long straight in lap twenty. A lap later, Norris takes the lead from Russell at the same spot. The Mercedes driver runs wide while defending, giving Max the opportunity to also pass Russell for P2.

Sargeant crashes in lap 25 at turn four. The American can leave his Williams unharmed and becomes the first retirement of the race. The safety car is deployed. Norris has just passed the pits, but for the trailing drivers, it is the perfect opportunity to make a pit stop. Max comes in for a fresh set of intermediate tyres and rejoins the track in second place. Norris can only pit a lap later and falls back into P3 after his tire change. So Verstappen takes the lead of the race, followed by Russell. Charles Leclerc, operating in the midfield, takes a gamble by switching to slicks just before the safety car comes in. In lap 30, the field is released again. Max retains his lead at the restart, with Russell in P2 and Norris in P3, while it starts raining again. Leclerc is helpless on his hard dry-weather tires and decides to switch back to intermediates. The rain is short-lived because after a few laps, the track starts to dry up visibly.

In lap 41, Pierre Gasly becomes the first driver to switch to dry-weather tires. Leclerc parks his Ferrari in the pits in lap 43, becoming the second retirement of the race. Meanwhile, the track continues to dry further, and in lap 44, Lewis Hamilton is the first driver from the top five to switch to slicks. Race leader Verstappen pits in lap 46 and switches to the medium compound dry-weather tires. The Dutchman rejoins the track in second place, behind Norris. The McLaren driver pits two laps later, and despite coming side by side with Verstappen onto the track, Norris's tires are not up to temperature yet, allowing Verstappen to easily retake the lead. Norris immediately faces pressure from Russell, and the Mercedes driver manages to pass Norris in lap 50. However, two laps later, Russell makes a mistake at turn eight, allowing Norris to pass him again.

Sergio Perez spins backwards into the tire barriers at turn six in lap 53. The Mexican drives back to the pits with a damaged rear wing, where he parks the RB20 and retires from the race. The following lap, Carlos Sainz also spins at turn six. Alexander Albon, who is following closely, has nowhere to go and is hit off the track by Sainz. Albon crashes into the barriers and retires. Sainz manages to limp back to the pits, but the Ferrari is too heavily damaged to continue. The safety car is deployed once again.

In lap 59, the safety car comes in, and Max retains the lead at the restart. Verstappen immediately opens up a gap to the chasing McLarens. Russell launches an attack on Piastri, and the two make contact at the entrance of the chicane in lap 64. Piastri manages to hold onto his third position, while Russell goes straight through the chicane and falls back behind teammate Hamilton. Hamilton successfully overtakes Piastri for P3 in lap 66. Russell eventually passes Piastri for P4 a lap later, before overtaking teammate Hamilton for third place as well. There is another close call for Yuki Tsunoda, who spins over the grass at turn nine and ends up backwards on the track. The chasing Nico Hulkenberg narrowly avoids crashing into the Japanese driver.

In the lead, Max wins his sixth Grand Prix of the season and his 60th in his Formula 1 career. Lando Norris finishes just over three seconds behind Verstappen in P2. It is the Briton's fifth podium of the year. George Russell secures a third-place finish, his and Mercedes' first podium of the season. Teammate Hamilton comes in fourth, with Piastri in fifth. The Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and home driver Lance Stroll finish sixth and seventh, while Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon complete the top ten.

Results Grand Prix Canada:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT701:45:47.92725
2Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes70+3.879s18
3George RussellRUSMercedes70+4.317s15
4Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes70+4.915s13
5Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes70+10.199s10
6Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes70+17.510s8
7Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes70+23.625s6
8Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT70+28.672s4
9Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault70+30.021s2
10Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault70+30.313s1
11Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari70+30.824s0
12Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari70+31.253s0
13Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari70+40.487s0
14Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT70+52.694s0
15Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari69+1 lap0
0Carlos SainzSAIFerrari52DNF0
0Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes52DNF0
0Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT51DNF0
0Charles LeclercLECFerrari40DNF0
0Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes23DNF0